Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that literally translates as ‘forest bathing’. It refers to immersing oneself in a forest and deeply connecting with this natural environment through the senses.
Forest bathing does require more purpose than simply stepping into a forest, however. Learn more about this mindful activity in an article by Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser from Universe Mindfulness in our latest issue of International Therapist magazine (Summer 2020, Issue 133) – read the full article here.
Want to try it forest bathing for yourself? You can find your nearest forest on Forestry England’s website (www.forestryengland.uk), as well as the following beginner tips on forest bathing:
- Turn off your devices to give yourself the best chance of relaxing, being mindful and enjoying a sensory forest-based experience.
- Slow down. Move through the forest slowly so you can see and feel more.
- Take long breaths deep into the abdomen. Extending the exhalation of air to twice the length of the inhalation sends a message to the body that it can relax.
- Stop, stand or sit, smell what’s around you, what can you smell?
- Take in your surroundings using all of your senses. How does the forest environment make you feel? Be observant, look at nature’s small details.
- Sit quietly using mindful observation; try to avoid thinking about your to-do list or issues related to daily life. You might be surprised by the number of wild forest inhabitants you see using this process.
- Keep your eyes open. The colours of nature are soothing, and studies have shown that people relax best while seeing greens and blues.
- Stay as long as you can. Start with a comfortable time limit and build up to the recommended two hours for a complete forest bathing experience.